Letter From Birmingham Jail

Fighting Inequality with the Past: A Look into "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and Related Historical Documents College

In his letter to the clergymen, Dr. Martin Luther King utilizes many of the intellectual concepts that President Thomas Jefferson employed in the writing of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America. While highlighting Jefferson’s more idealistic approach, Dr. King continuously references his own religious background in order to establish an emotional and fundamental connection with the clergymen. Although Jefferson took a much less up-front approach when incorporating religion into his compositions and doctrines than Dr. King, King’s ideas of unity and reason through God closely resemble those of President Abraham Lincoln, and more specifically in Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. By harmonizing the approach of the two Presidents, Dr. King composes a rather compelling letter from his jail cell.

Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence asserts that “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” [1] As the dawn of an independent United States...

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